The Mazda CX-5 Is Just A Big Fat Miata

And I mean that in the best way possible.

(Full Disclosure: Mazda wanted me to drive this car so bad that a dealer gave me it to me as a rental for 2 weeks while my Miata’s transmission was replaced.)

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Make no mistake, the CX-5 is no Miata. It’s a heavy front wheel drive crossover specifically engineered to appeal to the masses. But despite its appearance, this SUV has roadster blood coursing through its veins.

What is it?

The CX-5 is Mazda’s mid-size CUV, sitting in between the CX-3 and CX-9. This particular example was the Touring model with the naturally aspirated 2.5L inline 4 making 187 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque. The Touring model brings you some things like powered as well as heated faux leather seating.

What’s it like to drive?

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On paper, this mid size CUV doesn’t look like it has much going for it. Its got a DOHC 16 valve inline 4 making around 187 horsepower coupled to a 6[!] speed automatic which manages to move the big fella from a dead stop to 60 in about 8 seconds, has a top speed of 130 miles an hour and holds 0.83g on the skidpad (per Car and Driver). There are crossovers that are faster, handle more g’s and are more comfortable.

But none of the competitors elicit the feel that this big boy gives out. Mazda’s philosophy of ”Jinba Ittai” (which means ”the horse and rider as one”) has spread from just the Miata to its entire model range, and it shows. One of the ways that it does is via the introduction of Mazda’s G Vectoring control. It works like this: In order to achieve a car’s natural balance before a corner, it’s best to breathe on the throttle or even give a light amount of brake to increase the vertical load on the front wheels, thus increasing turn rate (in other words: making the car feel more responsive). Mazda capitalizes on this effect by reducing engine torque(by reducing spark timing) and thus increasing the load on the front wheels. The result is a car that feels a lot smaller than it is. It’s wonderful.

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Did I also mention that the gas pedal is hinged at the bottom? Or that the automatic transmission has clutches along with a torque converter to give a stronger lock and thus give the feel of a manual transmission? All these small delightful details add up to make a car more than the sum of its parts. It’s truly fantastic.

Alright, alright, but is it a good daily?

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It’s a crossover; It’s a fantastic daily! The seats are powered and heated, and they’re made of a faux leather and cloth material. The seating position is high up like any other crossover to give you a commanding view of the road, and the infotainment includes Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Gas mileage is good for the class at 25 city and 31 highway with the naturally aspirated 2.5 liter 4 cylinder.

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The backseat will fit 6 footers just fine, however, the cargo room is a bit on the smaller side of the class. Despite that though, the CX-5 will happily accomplish anything you ask of it.

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Okay, I like it! What’s it cost?

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To get an example like this, you can expect to be set back around $26,750. Used examples can be had in the low 20s however, and that’s not a bad deal for what you’re getting.

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Honestly, I don’t really have any real complaints about the CX-5. It drives well, feels nice, and can perform any task that can be expected from a mid size crossover. If you’re an enthusiast with a family, the CX-5 is an excellent pick.

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